Illness Narrative

Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 658-667

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Is There Such a Thing as Psychological Pain? and Why It Matters

  • David BiroAffiliated withSUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn Email author 


Medicine regards pain as a signal of physical injury to the body despite evidence contradicting the linkage and despite the exclusion of vast numbers of sufferers who experience psychological pain. By broadening our concept of pain and making it more inclusive, we would not only better accommodate the basic science of pain but also would recognize what is already appreciated by the layperson—that pain from diverse sources, physical and psychological, share an underlying felt structure.


Physical pain Psychological pain Emotional pain Nociceptor Affective pain center Grief Depression